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Hiring sales people can be a risky business, even for large companies with sophisticated recruitment processes, let alone a smaller business run by an accidental sales person with no background in sales management. Hiring a good sales person can be one of the best things you do for your business but equally it can turn out to be an expensive mistake and the source of a lot of heartache. Here are 7 of the biggest mistakes to avoid:
Mistake # 1 - Assuming all sales people can sell
A question I get asked a lot is how to hire a salesperson who does not end up being an expensive mistake. This is an area area many accidental sales people waste a lot of time, money, and emototional heartache on. It's a great idea in theory but unless you have realistic expectations it can be more trouble than it's worth.
After you have read a few sales books and have attended a sales training or two you think you know the score. Get a USP, focus on the benefits of your product and service and remember that people don't like to be sold to but they do like to buy. Just because everyone is saying it does not make it true.
In this recording, Grant Leboff explains why traditional sales thinking can hold back your success and how to think about sales interactions in a way that will increase your sales results.
Politician William Hague once said that if something sounds like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck!! If only the same were true of sales people! I have spoken to so many business owners recently who are nursing a depelted bank balance by taking on a sales person who looked and sounded like a born sales person and yet never sold a bean! It is easy for them to see the need of using a sales assessment test prior to recruiting once they have been burnt.
I often get asked by accidental sales people for book recommendations and of course I seek to advise based on their current needs. When I am asked by a complete beginner I always recommend a book that is not about sales at all. In fact its about leadership “7 Habits of highly effective people”
One of the things I do with clients is to help them really understand their target audience and the potential motivations to want to buy my clients’ services. The next stage is then to communicate to the target audience and press the emotive buttons. This involves developing stories and case studies etc.
In helping my clients quickly gain clarity I go through an exercise I call Customer Archetypes™ and I thought I would share it with you here as I am sure it will help you better understand your target audience.
A typical syndrome with accidental sales people is ‘feast and famine’. You have a dearth of paid work and so you devote your attention to finding new business. Eventually your activity pays off and the opportunities start to show up. You then start delivering and getting stuck into doing what you do best. Meanwhile lead generation activity gradually slows down like an electric fan turned off at the mains. You are too busy enjoying your feast to worry about that lead generation stuff – the feast is going to last forever right?
Selling is a life skill, in my opinion. I say that because in order to get good at selling you need to work on more than just sales techniques. Selling is a people business and that means you need to learn more about people. Things such as psychology, how to develop relationships and trust, how to present yourself, how to persuade on a win-win basis. Some people have a lot of these skills when they start out in sales. We tend to think of these as born sales people. Other people like myself have to work on these skills when they get into sales.
Achieving clarity in business development is like having a blindfold removed. Suddenly everything is clear and the way forward is obvious. It can also be compared to a combination lock. You have 5 numbers on the lock and you have four correct. Getting the 5th number is all it takes for everything to fall into place. A small change in clarity can lead to a big difference in results. Clarity cannot be trained but it can be facilitated.
You are a business owner not a sales professional. Winning sales is just one of a long list of things to think about. Why complicate matters? Selling is actually quite simple if you look at it slightly differently. I have spent many years looking for ways of helping the owners of small businesses and professionals to quickly understand how to succeed in sales without needing to be a Sales Pro. Here are seven of my favourite ways to simplify selling:
1. Look for repeat purchase rather than one-off sales
2. Start small and grow rather than take on big brands